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New York rapper Rahzel lends his beatboxing to Tibet House US


Rahzel Credit: Rahzel (Getty Images)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Tibet House US, a nonprofit institution founded at the request of the Dalai Lama to promote Tibet's civilization and heritage. For 23 of those years, musicians have gathered to raise money for it.

The lineup for this year's benefit includes composer Philip Glass, rock legend Patti Smith, Jim James of indie-rockers My Morning Jacket and beatboxing legend Rahzel, who has performed with The Roots and Björk, among others.

amNewYork spoke with New York native Rahzel about the event.

How did you get involved? It started when I was touring with the Beastie Boys. They've been big advocates for Tibetan monks and the Dalai Lama.

How did you get into beatboxing? Beatboxing was a necessity growing up in hip-hop in the earlier days. Now we have social networks, the Internet, 4G, Skype. It was primitive compared to now. You couldn't walk around with a drum kit or put a drum machine on a computer and take it with you. You had to improvise.

When did you become interested in collaborating with people outside rap? My first venture was touring with Everlast and the Beastie Boys. I was being exposed to other genres of music. I thought it'd be cool to bring an element of hip-hop to different kinds of music.

What do you hope people get out of the benefit? I hope people do a bit of research into what Tibet House does around the world and support their cause. I'm also pushing for a lot of my followers ... to experience the event musically. It's something that will challenge young people to think outside the box. You can learn a lot listening to different kinds of music.

If you go: 23rd Annual Tibet House US Benefit Concert is at Carnegie Hall on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., 881 Seventh Ave., 212-247-7800, $35-$105.

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